The Bush administration, pressing its campaign against state medical marijuana laws, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let federal authorities punish California doctors who recommend pot to their patients, says the San Francisco Chronicle.
The administration would revoke the federal prescription licenses of doctors who tell their patients marijuana would help them, a prerequisite for obtaining the drug under the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law. The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by an appellate court in San Francisco that said the proposed penalties would violate the freedom of speech of both doctors and patients.
If the justices review the case, it would be their first look at medical marijuana since May 2001, when they upheld federal authority to close down a pot dispensary in Oakland and others in the state. The October decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco “effectively licensed physicians to treat patients with prohibited substances” and interfered with the government’s authority “to enforce the law in an area vital to the public health and safety,” the Justice Department told the Supreme Court.
The appeal “is a sign that this administration will do everything they can to defeat the will of the voters of California and many other states,” said Graham Boyd, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer. California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. The initiative, a trailblazer for laws in eight other states, allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana with their doctors’ approval.